MVP McKay helps Harris home in U17 Futures thriller

CARLTON fans will keep close tabs on a father-daughter eligible young gun as bottom-aged Sophie McKay earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours in the Under 17 Futures match today. The clash, which took place at Frankston, was largely an exhibition of the best available talent, and the Sandringham Dragons midfielder was everywhere, racking up 30 disposals and six clearances.

Her side, Team Harris – named after Melbourne’s Tayla Harris – got the better of Team Schleicher – referring to Collingwood’s Ruby – in an eight-point nail-biter. A late goal to GWV Rebels forward Claire Mahony sealed the result, with the game in the balance right up until the final 30 seconds.

AFLW Under 18 Championships MVP Havana Harris was on her namesake side, and finished with 14 disposals and 20 hitouts, and was able to take a back seat with so much talent around her. McKay was consistent across the four quarter through the middle for her side, with her and Vic Country MVP, Ash Centra taking control in the first half.

At half-time, the trio had a combined 41 disposals, with McKay (15 and four clearances), Centra (13 and two) and Harris (13 and nine hitouts) a dazzling trio. Both Centra and Harris spent time forward in the second half with the firmer finishing with 21 disposals, six marks and three clearances, while Harris added the one extra touch for 14 and 20 hitouts.

Despite leading by 10 points at half-time, Team Harris never looked completely safe, and a three goals to one third term – off the back of majors from Emma McDonald, Lucy Thompson and Sara Howley – put Team Schleicher up by three points with a quarter to play.

Luckily for Team Harris, it had the breeze in the final term, and an early goal to Ella Parker off some great forward pressure put her side back in front. Her NSW-ACT teammate Ashley Patton tied the scores with a behind a few minutes later, with both teams at 39-apiece with eight minutes to go.

Both teams had chances in those final eight minutes, with Eastern Ranges tall Georgie Brisbane missing a set shot after nailing a great snap earlier in the day, and Parker also blazing away to miss a chance. Then, despite the ball having some time up the other end – and the likes of Sienna Tallariti and Natasha Entwistle rebounding everything – it took until Mahony took a good mark and iced the set shot to seal the result.

West Australian Molly O’Hehir was one of a number of impressive defenders on the day | Image credit: Rookie Me Central

McKay deservedly earned MVP honours for her 30 disposals, three marks, three tackles, six clearances and two inside 50s, with a set shot just missing that could have added a goal to her tally. She even brought plenty of hardness to the contest, and while she gave away six free kicks, there was an early Carlton-Collingwood rivalry attached with one.

After turning over a kick under pressure, McKay worked her way to the wing and pushed over potential Collingwood father-daughter prospect Violet Patterson. Aside from that moment, the game was largely a game of skills and clean hands as both teams put on a show.

Defenders Lou-Lou Field and Zimra Hussain got their hands on plenty of the ball for Team Harris, while West Australian Molly O’Hehir had some terrific aerial moments. Brisbane clunked five marks from 14 touches, while Sarah Poustie also found a stack of the ball.

Howley had the ball on a string for Team Schleicher with a team-high 26 disposals, as well as five marks, five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal, while fellow Victorian midfielder Sierra Grieves got better as the game went on to clock up six clearances from 24 disposals and lay seven tackles in a strong performance.

Schleicher skipper Zippy Fish was arguably best for the losing side finishing with 24 disposals, five marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and two rebound 50s, while Patterson, Zoe Hargreaves and late inclusion Sophie Strong were also impressive.

TEAM HARRIS 1.0 | 4.2 | 5.3 | 7.5 (47)
TEAM SCHLEICHER 1.2 | 2.4 | 5.6 | 5.9 (39)

C. Mahony 2, G. Brisbane, E. Parker, L. Boyd, K. Forbes
Schleicher: S. Howley, V. Patterson, L. Thompson, E. McDonald, H. Talbot

S. McKay, A. Centra, L. Field, M. O’Hehir, H. Harris
Schleicher: Z. Fish, S. Howley, S. Grieves, V. Patterson, S. Tallariti

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